During the time of Covid, it can be easy to feel you're doing all you can retailers. Sorry, but we've changed our buying habits. That's why you need to re-engage customers with email.
Dodd's bookstore, a cornerstone on Second Street in Belmont Shore was closing after nearly 30 years in business and I approached them to see about purchasing their email address list. The owner's reply?
“We don’t have an email list; we didn’t need one.”
I often see stores fail to re-engage their customers via email, or only use email to offer a discount.
Those attitudes keep many stores’ sales small.
To get your clients to return more often, let’s begin with the most basic rule, you have to have an exceptional experience. That means you have a selling system with strategies for how to greet a customer, how to generate an engaged customer, and how to close the sale.
At the same time, you want to focus on the lifetime value of customer retention and not on a single transaction.
When I was in the coffee business, a barista blew off a customer over a $4 cup of coffee. I had to show them that most of our patrons stopped in every weekday making the average yearly value of that one lost customer about $1000. One poor experience cost us almost 10 times what the single purchase entailed.
It only makes sense then that those who’ve had a good customer experience with your store will be open to your marketing messages.
And before you blow off email marketing, according to CMI, email marketing is the most effective digital channel.
Think millennials can’t be reached?
Consider this: Millennials are obsessed with email. More than half of millennials ages 18 to 24 check their email while still in bed in the morning, and 43 percent of millennials ages 25 to 34 report doing the same thing.
And those figures were BC, before Covid. Now with more and more customers staring at computers instead of commuting, emails are actually working better than eve.
In short, if you want to be found where your customer base spends their time...that’s on email.
Since you have their email addresses because they have purchased from you before, don’t be afraid to employ an email campaign for emailing your customer list on a regular basis to re-engage them.
While repeat customers and purchases are your ultimate goal in marketing, it’s important to remember that your current customer probably doesn’t want or need a hard-sell.
You just want to keep them engaged and interested in your brand. That old saying is still true, out of sight, out of mind.
A great email doesn’t seem like an ad, it seems like a favor.
That said, you need to provide value. No one wants clutter in their inbox. Before you hit send ask yourself, If I was receiving this, would I click on it? If yes, then proceed.
Here are 5 types of emails to re-engage your customers:
The replenishment email. Is there something that you carry that runs out and needs replenishment? This could be as simple as shoe polish, as necessary as dog food, or as complicated as a vintage wine. And if your customers are sent an email about how you can set those products up, on a subscription, to send to their home automatically, they'll appreciate not having to schlep heavy or awkward staples home.
The joint event email. I had a client who co-hosted an event, The Secrets Every Smart Woman Should Know About How To Dress A Room. She teamed up with a woman’s apparel store to show the similarities between getting dressed – the appropriate foundations, the choice of color, the look you were trying to achieve, the appropriate fabric choices and accessories – and showed how those same decisions she already made daily applied to creating a beautiful room. In several joint emails sent to their own email lists, both brands received more business. You could even upsell a Zoom consultation in that email.
The weather email. Being local has its advantages. An email tied into the local weather describing the weather forecast in terms of a hair problem like Frizzy. Obviously, you could use similar product tie-ins in a similar format if you are a hair salon, but also as a home center, the weather shows Lawn Mowing, a sporting goods store, the weather shows Early Morning Run...pretty much you name it...and any humor is a bonus.
The informational email. Take a common problem or topic of your customer – not drinking enough water, stuck wearing the same old thing, etc. Then email them some reasons why it happens and strategies to help. Even better would be a blog post you email and link to your website. See how this email answers a pet owner’s concern, How To Understand What Your Dog Is Telling You. What could you offer to help demystify common struggles with your product?
Make them aware it’s time for an upgrade. Admittedly, this seems more geared to electronics but it could be adapted to shoes, place settings, jewelry, clothing, you name it. Taking a page from BuzzFeed’s popular list posts,send out an email that instructs how them how to know when a specific item needs replacing like in the example below.
Of course you can do this only if you have an email address list, and you must religiously try to grow that list with every customer if you take holding onto them seriously.
And I hope you do because the big retailers you are competing with like Amazon, Walmart and Target are laser-focused on holding onto their customers after they were all deemed essential retailers.
Every single person on your email address list gave you their permission to be contacted and because of this, your email will end up in their inbox. (And beware the GDPR regulations are worldwide, so be compliant wherever you are located.)
Compare that to social media...
On Facebook, only 1-2% of your fans will see a single post unless you boost it. And boosting costs money while email is free.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is great for getting exposure, but email to your customer list is a better sales predictor because it is direct contact with your own list of people who have actually spent money with you.
Imagine how big your email list could be if you had been actively nurturing it for five or more years.
Three bonus ideas to get your customers back in your retail store:
Take out a Google ad in your local area. Shoppers start searching for items online first; it’s just a fact of life. Ideally, you would have a killer website that would organically rise to the top of local search results. Your Google profile can be robust enough to feature directions, hours, and compelling photos so you can show up higher in search results in your local market to remind customers you have what they are searching for. Consider looking at Podium to help automate this for you as well.
Do a Facebook LIVE video. If you are a dress store, show how to accessorize that little black dress three different ways. Even if your customers aren't going out, they'd love the opportunity to play with their accessories. If you are a men’s apparel store, show how to use a suit coat to make three different outfits – as a sport coat, over a hoodie and with a t-shirt. You get the idea. Because customers already trust you, they’ll be interested in whatever tips you share that take them out of worrying about the pandemic.
Show them before leaving. If a customer has decided to buy a gift for someone else, make sure to show them something specific for themselves based on your conversation with them.
Again, the point is out of sight, out of mind. If you don’t stay in front of your customers, they’ll forget you. Especially as most of us are still cocooning as the coronavirus continues to rise in the South and West.
While you could be spending a lot of money to try to attract strangers to shop with you, that’s expensive in both time and money. It won't do as much to grow your retail sales as to get people who already know you to return either for curbside or in-person.
How to sell more?
You have to constantly be thinking of new ways to speak to your tribe of clients that isn’t based around We have a SALE!
Greater and greater discounts effectively transform your once loyal customers into discount shoppers willing to shop anywhere. Look no further than Gap; they can’t seem to go a weekend without a 40% off sale.
While you can attract shoppers and retain them with loss-leaders, you make money on profitable clients.
Use these email tips and ideas to get your brick and mortar customers to return again and again.
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